"Is anyone familiar with an opera called the 'Pirates of Penzance?'" was a question posed to me as I started to write this week's column.
At the time, I was starting to write about three, singing priests who had just gotten a $2.3 million record deal. However, the "Pirates of Penzance" question continued to seep into my mind. I was the only reporter who acknowledged he was familiar with the comedic opera. I am only familiar with it because it was made into a movie starring Kevin Kline, Linda Ronstadt and Angela Lansbury in the early 1980's.
If you are not familiar with the opera, it features the incredibly goofy song "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General."
In a lot of ways, the opera also depicts the current state of the United States. Sadly, the characters in the opera mirror, too closely, the people in charge in this country.
You have the major general, who in real life combines Dick Cheney's smarts (and age, and dreams of a general) with George W. Bush's aloof personality, and somehow robs the grave to steal Abraham Lincoln's sense of decency.
You have the completely helpless, fair maidens, who always want someone else to save them, rather than taking the initiative to protect themselves. Who else but the American people could be the maidens in real life?
You have the "village police," which have the facade of being brave and strong, but the truth is, they are bumbling fools who are useless and couldn't protect air. Whenever they enter a scene, they are waddling, while repeatedly singing the word "Tarantara." In real life, the U.S. House and Representatives and the Senate are the counterparts of the opera's version of "law enforcement."
Watch the movie version of the opera on YouTube, and you'll realize the constable sounds a lot like Nancy Pelosi. No kidding, check it out for yourselves.
Then you have the pirates. Ah, the pirates. They are the title characters in the opera, so you'd expect someone somewhat decent to be their equals, but there is one catch. The pirates are incompetent baboons who have no ethics or shame for most of the opera. One of the first actions they try to commit is to kidnap the maidens and steal them away. They also try to plunder the local village.
Clearly, this can be translated into the Washington D.C. lobbyists, with Jack Abramoff playing the role of the Pirate King.
Unfortunately, there are no analogies for the characters of "Frederic" or "Mabel." If there were counterparts for these characters, they must have taken a one-way trip out of this country. Probably a smart thing to do. The United States isn't doing too well these days.
However, short of everyone dancing around while singing "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" on the floor of the House of Representatives -- which, surprisingly, would totally fit in if it did happen -- life is not a comedic opera.
The fact that our government's leaders behave like they are starring in one, shows what is truly wrong with this country.
We don't have public officials just so they can sing and dance and generally act like total fools in public. We have them so someone can act in our best interests. Instead, we'v got a bunch of people who like to grandstand and position themselves for power.
Perhaps, they should all get up and sing a rousing chorus of "We are the Very Model of a Modern Major Blunder."
Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at email@example.com.